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New test can help prevent misdiagnosis of bladder disease
Web posted Monday, March 28, 2005 - Augusta Chronicle
By Kamille Bostick | Staff Writer

Nine years ago, Sylvia Ramsey, of Martinez, found out she had bladder cancer. It
was a double blow when her husband, Charles, was diagnosed with prostate
cancer that same year.
Though they both successfully underwent cancer treatment, what she
discovered was that getting information and insight into her disease was much
more difficult.  There was no support," she said. "There was not a lot of
information telling me how I was going to survive it."
Even today, Mrs. Ramsey said, awareness about bladder cancer, which is the
fourth-most-common cancer in men and the 10th most common in women,
hasn't improved.
Michael O'Donnell, the director of urologic oncology at the University of Iowa
School of Medicine, said the disease, which affects more than a half-million
people, with 63,000 new cases a year, is in a peculiar position.
"It's a funny disease in the sense that a lot of people have not written about it or
know about it in the public eye or even most general physicians," he said. "They
spend 50 times more money per patient with prostate cancer than with bladder
cancer."  IIt's a self-defeating circle," Dr. O'Donnell said, explaining that
because a lot of people don't know about the disease, there's not a push to
properly fund research or promote wider public knowledge.  "There's a stigma
to it," he said. "People shun away from them (the patients), thinking bladder
cancer means they're soiling themselves all the time with urine, but that
couldn't be further from the truth."
What is true is that bladder cancer is a very treatable disease, but it often hits
people who might not even know they are at risk.
Links have been made between the disease and smoking - about three-quarters
of men and one-half of women who have the disease were smokers - but those
who work around industrial chemicals also can develop bladder cancer.
"There are environmental factors, too," Dr. O'Donnell said. "Truck drivers and
those exposed to gasoline or other chemicals; hair dressers and women who
dye hair more than once a month. Even those people in parts of the country with
water contaminated with arsenic can get it."
Despite such a varied patient population and treatment options, the biggest
challenge with bladder cancer is preventing its recurrence.
"Unlike most cancers where you catch them when they're late, 75 percent of
the time we catch bladder cancers early," Dr. O'Donnell said. "The problem is
that it recurs with a lot of patients. It's a disease that has a lot of issues
affecting quality of life because it is so persistent. It's debilitating but not
deadly."
Bladder cancer also can be easy to misdiagnose, especially in women.
"The reason we think symptoms in women are often ignored," Dr. O'Donnell
said, is that they're attributed to other causes."
Blladder cancer often presents many of the same symptoms, such as blood in
the urine, as bladder infections and other urinary-tract ailments.
Mrs. Ramsey said that before her diagnosis, she was treated extensively for
bladder infections.
"I had been going to the gynecologist, and he kept treating me for bladder
infections and treating me for bladder infections. Then finally I had a urinalysis
where another doctor told me I should go see a urologist," she said.
A few months later, after undergoing the series of tests, examinations and
radiological imaging that detect bladder cancer, she was diagnosed with Stage
III invasive cancer.
As part of her treatment, Mrs. Ramsey had to have her bladder removed and
another constructed.  Today, a new urine test is making it easier to diagnose
bladder cancer. The development has been big news for patients, survivors and
physicians.
"We're making quite a lot of advances with treating and diagnosing," Dr.
O'Donnell said. "There are new chemotherapy methods, new improved
instruments to examine the bladder and relatively innovative surgery to build
new bladders for those that have to have them taken out."
Dr. O'Donnell said the next crucial step is to get people to make the connection
and ask for screenings or the new urine test.
"We've got to have them thinking about sending out for the test," he said. "The
hardest point is to get patients and doctors to think of the disease when they
see the symptoms."
Mrs. Ramsey is hoping to drive the issue home with a crusade she has
undertaken to make people knowledgeable about the symptoms, the disease
and the need for funding and support.
Through speaking to groups and deferring portions of the proceeds from her
poetry book,
Pulse Points of a Woman's World, Mrs. Ramsey is reaching people
to tell them about their options and risks.
"When I was going to the doctor all those months, I didn't think to ask about
bladder cancer," she said. "I can have empathy for someone going through it
now.
"But we should all be as knowledgeable about bladder cancer as we are about
breast cancer and prostate cancer."

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or
kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.
WHO'S AT RISK   

Smokers: People who smoke are at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with
bladder cancer as nonsmokers.

Possible high-risk industries involve: Textiles, rubber, leather, painting, printing,
dye (aromatic amines known as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine)
People in their late 60s: The risk of bladder cancer increases as people grow
older. (The National Cancer Institute says fewer than 1 percent of bladder
cancer cases occur among people under age 40.)

Men and women, but men more commonly: Men are two to three times more
likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than women. That's probably related
to workforce exposure and smoking patterns in the past.
People with chronic bladder inflammation: Frequent irritations of the bladder
might have some connection to bladder cancer, but that does not necessarily
mean they cause bladder cancer. Those conditions include: urinary infections;
kidney and bladder stones; other causes of chronic bladder irritation; indwelling
catheters (such as those used by paraplegics); schistosomiasis or bilharziasis
- infection by a parasitic worm in Egypt, chemotherapy patients: High doses of
the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and ifosfamide can
increase the risk of bladder cancer. The drug mesna is used with these drugs
to protect the bladder from irritation and decrease cancer risk.
People exposed to arsenic: Arsenic in drinking water has been associated with
a higher risk of bladder cancer, but risk depends on water system
standards.Whites, more than members of other races: Whites are twice as
likely to develop bladder cancer than blacks or Hispanics. Asians have the
lowest incidence of bladder cancer. family history: Family members of bladder
cancer patients are at an increased risk for developing the disease.  Children
with rare birth defects: Two rare birth defects increase bladder cancer risk.
Source: The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

SYMPTOMS:
Bladder cancer symptoms are similar to other urinary ailments. Only a
physician can diagnose the disease. - Blood in the urine (this can be both visible
and microscopic) - Frequent urination - Pain during urination
ONLINE
Resources: www.blcwebcafe.orgwww.urologyhealth.org
The bladder
The bladder is a hollow, balloon-shape organ that stores urine. The urine is
produced in the kidneys. It flows through tubes called ureters into the bladder
and is discharged through the urethra during urination. The bladder muscle aids
urination by contracting to help force out the urine.
Source: American Urological Association
--From the Tuesday, March 29, 2005 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle


For Immediate Release April 17, 2005 - Click here to read article.
Poetry and Bladder Cancer Awareness
Tour in Southeast Missouri



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Click here to read article.
SYLVIA RAMSEY GUEST SPEAKER
WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY
WOMAN'S HISTORY MONTH OBSERVANCE
March 18, 2005


Augusta Chronicle - February 20, 2005
 Click Here to read article.
Book fairs teach value of reading
Web posted Saturday, February 19, 2005
By Greg Rickabaugh | Staff Writer


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  
Click Here to read article.
Karen Roberts, Medical Writer, PR Consultant
bcancernews@att.net
317-730-5349
BC Bumble Bee
My Mascot

According to the laws of physics
a bumble bee can't fly because
his wings are too small for his
size and mass.  No one has told
him he can't, so, he flies anyway.  
With this attitude the fight against
Bladder Cancer can be won!  
Join me in the fight!
All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of sylvialramsey.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal
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Favorite Links To
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Bladder Cancer Web Café

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Network

National Bladder Cancer
Research Center Information

Dr. Michael O'Donnell

Interview with Dr. O'Donnell
Click on Author-Reviews logo above
to read a review of the book,
Pulse Points of a Woman's World.
Book Signing - Borders Bookstore
Augusta, GA
Sylvia Ramsey reads poetry during the Women Using
Literature to Promote a Cause program for Women's
History Month at the Gibbs Library in Martinez. Mrs.
Ramsey is a bladder cancer survivor.
Kevin Martin/Staff Photographer
Click
on
image.